Developers are stepping up to continue to help pay for more classrooms to house students generated by growth.
Three new neighborhoods — North Main Commons on North Main Street at Northgate Drive as well as Denali and Cerri in southwest Manteca representing 1,168 new homes — have agreed to pay not only school mitigation fees per square foot but to encumber future homeowners to pay community facilities district taxes.
The Manteca Unified School District board is expected to ratify the three agreements when they meet Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the district office, 2271 W. Louise Ave.
After years of developers and the school district entering into community facilities district (Mello-Roos) agreements, Manteca Unified about eight years dropped the ball and stopped monitoring proposed developments as they made their way through the municipal approval process.
The city has no legal standing to require developers to encumber future homes owners with Mello Roos taxes. That said the state gives schools the authority to put in place a mitigation fee tied to a home’s square footage. That fee is now at $3.48 per square foot.
It takes three sources of income to generate an estimated $35,000 per new housing unit built to provide for educational facilities. Those three sources are school mitigation fees, Mello-Roos taxes and a mixture of state and local bond money.
When the school district realized that they weren’t keeping tabs on new development, almost 1,000 homes were either being built, were approved to be built or were nearing final approval for building that were not annexed into community facilities districts.
The district had pared administrative staff back during the 2008 budget cuts triggered by the Great Recession. They remedied the situation by hiring a growth planner and aggressively started pressuring developers. Local-based developers such as Raymus Homes and Atherton Homes stepped up but those developers from out-of-town that bought approved subdivisions that weren’t encumbered with Mello Roos taxes refused to do so.
The district made it clear that those buying new homes that were not in a Mello-Roos district would have their children bumped from their neighborhood school and bused elsewhere if there wasn’t space for students from homes that were in a Mello-Roos district. At the same time the district let developers know they would pursue “the nuclear option” the state allows local school districts to exercise when certain conditions are met and findings made that the existing school fees charged for new home construction for new school facilities that are at $3.48 per square foot could be ratcheted up to $10.44 per square foot if they did not join Mello-Roos districts.
To illustrate the impact growth has Griffin Park — a development along South Main Street that will add 1,571 homes — will generate 755 elementary students and 350 high school district. MUSD Senior Director of Business Services Jacqui Breitenbucher has pointed out it will cost the district at least $54.9 million to build the school facilities needed to take care of just that one development. School mitigation fees alone would leave shortfall of at least $18.3 million. Most of that shortfall is now being bridged thanks to developers entering a Mello-Roos agreement.
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